As Microsoft's lawsuit with the FTC over its $69bn Activision Blizzard acquisition rumbles on, the company has hit rival Sony with a subpoena. The goal is to force Sony Interactive Entertainment to disclose the release schedule of PlayStation exclusive games it has in development.
Microsoft wants this information to help its own case against the FTC. While the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking to block Microsoft's deal, a victory for Microsoft will likely mean approval around the world for the buyout.
For the FTC – and indeed Sony – there are concerns over how Microsoft will use Activision franchise such as Candy Crush, Warcraft, and most notably Call of Duty. On the other hand, Microsoft says that it will continue to support Call of Duty as a cross-platform game. Moreover, the company is attempting to show it remains a relatively minor player in the video game market.
Confirmation that Microsoft has subpoenaed Sony Interactive Entertainment as it tries to defend itself from an FTC lawsuit against the MS bid for Activision
Sony notes MS first tried this on Jan 12 but had to re-do it on Jan 17. Sony will likely have a reply on the 27th pic.twitter.com/mWW6tyXML0
— Stephen Totilo (@stephentotilo) January 23, 2023
Microsoft has previously argued that its exclusives are small compared to Sony. It is likely the company wants Sony to detail is first-party schedule to highlight this argument.
“Negotiations between SIE (Sony Interactive Entertainment) and Microsoft as to the scope of SIE's production and a discovery schedule are ongoing,” the court document reads. “SIE requests an extension of the deadline for SIE to move to limit or quash or otherwise respond to the Subpoena so that SIE and Microsoft can continue to negotiate and thereby eliminate or narrow any issues that need to be presented to the Court for resolution.”
Back and Forth
While Microsoft would also gain control of major brands such as Warcraft and Candy Crush, Call of Duty is the main target. Sony has complained Call of Duty is irreplaceable on PlayStation. The company believes Microsoft will eventually make the franchise exclusive to Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming.
Microsoft has always maintained that is not the intention. The company argues it is more valuable and profitable to maintain Call of Duty as a cross-platform franchise. To emphasize this, the company has agreed on a license deal with Nintendo to keep Call of Duty on Nintendo consoles for 10 years.
Earlier this month, the European Commission took a similar stance to the FTC and warned Microsoft over the deal. However, it is widely believed Microsoft has a good case against the FTC and if the company wins other regulators will ease their protests.
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